I'm in Roseau, MN right now, just a few miles south of Canada, for a school residency. Figured it might be a good time to catch up here and spread the word about some of the stuff my friends are up to.
The new Junkyard Empire album is out. Radically-progressive hip hop band, hopefully you're familiar. I'm on this song, along with Truthmaze and RDM of Abstract Pack:
New Heidi Barton Stink album, release party, free song (featuring me); info and a full post here.
The homie Hieu Nguyen is in the running for a Write Bloody publishing deal. Like this video and help him. I coached Hieu once, when he was on the MN Brave New Voices team. But he's always been brilliant, and his work this year has just been just devastatingly good. Once there are more, better videos of him online, I'll post them all.
The other homie Miles Walser is also in the running for a Write Bloody publishing deal. Like this video and help him. Miles is also amazing. His work is smart and heartfelt and important. Aside from the video linked here, do a YouTube search for him and you'll find some beautiful, powerful work.
Update: Khary Jackson is ALSO in the running for a Write Bloody publishing deal. Wow. Here's his video; like it and help him out.
Kristoff Krane has an album release party coming up. He's one of the most talented hip hop artists I've ever known, and deserves your support. The album is FREE too. Link to the show.
Mammoth is one of those guys who always seems to be smiling. He can also rap his ass off, and just released a new video. I don't know what the hell is going on in this song, but it makes me smile.
On a more serious note, CeCe McDonald's trial started, and her case is one everyone should know about. A Black trans-woman gets assaulted by a group of people, defends herself and is now on trial for murder. Learn more here.
I finally found a good online video of Kevin Yang, who is one of my favorite local poets. This piece brings tears to my eyes every time.
My friend Laura is spreading the word about Single Moms' Day in Seoul, an event/conference committed to raising awareness about discrimination, children's rights and other issues related to adoption and single motherhood in South Korea. Check it out.
Unique Techniques is still going strong. Both a Twin Cities hip hop-focused podcast AND video series, it's definitely worth a look, especially if you're into MN rap. All kinds of gems in there-- in-depth interviews with Carnage, Desdamona, Truthmaze, Kevin Beacham, me and a bunch of other people.
Finally, a special note about something else to look out for this month. Big Quarters (whom I've written about before, another one of my favorite local hip hop acts) recently partnered with Kulture Klub Collaborative, an organization that brings together artists and homeless youth in the Twin Cities. Here's the official blurb:
Kulture Klub Collaborative has partnered with local hip-hop artists Big Quarters to create a music artist-in-residence at St Barnabas Apartments. St. Barnabas Apartments are a transitional housing site for formerly homeless youth which is owned by Aeon and operated in partnership with YouthLink. Over the course of several months, youth will write their own music and create several songs for distribution. Sales will go to supporting future music projects at the Youth Opportunity Center in downtown Minneapolis. This project is also supported by Hennepin Theatre Trust's Our Town initiative. Youth have used the opportunity to write songs and poems reflecting on Hennepin Ave.
The digital version of the EP should be out this month, with a 7" following that. I've heard a couple of the tracks on it, and they're really good. Not in a "help out these kids who are trying to rap and do something positive by checking out their music" way, but in a "this is good music I would actually listen to regardless" way. The beats knock (no surprise, with BQ involved), and the MCs are unique and charismatic-- this is high-quality Twin Cities rap music, and the fact that it was made by youth from a transitional housing site should be no surprise-- many of our best artists come from adversity, and genius is all around us, especially when we talk about youth. Much respect to BQ, KK and the youth themselves-- I'll definitely be checking for the project when it drops, and I hope you will be too. I love the variety of good youth arts programs in the TC (especially hip hop-based ones); this is something we need to acknowledge and continue supporting.
Sorry if I've missed anyone, I know a ton of people, and they're all doing amazing things. I'm grateful to have this community. Keep up the good work.